Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Not GB Shaw but still a quality prophet

Not George Bernard Shaw – but still a Quality Prophet.
I have always been a Quality fan of Philip Crosby.  He was a hands-on qualitist (one who practices Quality) and qualitologist (one who studies Quality) with a lot of experience.  Crosby became a skilled speaker and writer and learned how to make essential points clearly and succinctly.  

His 4 absolutes have defined the universe of Quality in a way that has never been surpassed.
The DEFINITION of Quality is meeting of requirements (of both customer and process).
The SYSTEM (PURPOSE) of Quality is the prevention of error.
The PERFORMANCE STANDARD of Quality is Zero Defects (relative to both the customer and process).
The MEASURE OF Quality is the Price of Non-conformance.

I regret that by the time that I got really engaged in Quality he was doing more writing and less public speaking and passed away a short time later.  I would have loved to have shared a brew-or-two.

I was always interested in knowing if he had the opportunity to re-write DIRFT (do it right the first time) if we would have developed an alternative phraseology  that would have retained the message but softened the tone.

Actually I think he would have looked at me, shook his head and walked away, probably saying something about my total absence of any real competence or commitment (In Reflections on Quality he doubled-down with “the thought of error being inevitable is a self fulfilling prophesy.  If you think it has to be that way, it will be that way”)

On a related note, I was flipping through Google, as I am preparing for a series of presentations, and I came upon the affirmation, “Success is not about never making a mistake; success is not making the same mistake twice”.  It was ascribed to George Bernard Shaw, the famed Irish author.  I have always been attuned to that philosophy as the true extension of the four absolutes; learn from your mistakes and you will prevent the error next time.

I have learned that a lot of affirmations are nice words, but too often mis-ascribed or maybe even made up (Albert Einstein never said that bochum about the cause of insanity.) so I was a little concerned that I couldn’t find any reference to a GB Shaw play or lecture.  

 But I did find something even more important.

George Burnard Shaw never talked about success and blunders, but Henry Wheeler Shaw did, and wrote it in one of his books “The Complete Works of Josh Billings” and first published the phrase in another book in 1865.  (George Bernard Shaw did not start his writing career until 1884!)  

HW was born in Massachusetts the son, nephew and cousin of American congressmen.  He was a pretty good student until he got thrown out of school for pulling a prank (Yay!!). 
He made his career similar to his countryman Samuel Langhorne Clemens, including the creation of a pseudonym; Clemens became Mark Twain, and Shaw became Josh Billings.  Both were itinerant actors, humorists, authors on a range of topics from a down-home common-sense perspective.  “Success don’t consist in never making blunders, but in never making the same one the second time”.  He is also the guy who wrote in a poem that it is the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease”.
To put this in some sort of temporal perspective, Josh Billings predated Crosby, Juran, Deming, Shewhart, Ford and even Frederick Winslow Taylor.  So I guess that makes him some sort of Quality Prophet.  

From my perspective what makes Josh Billings so important to the Quality movement was that he was not an industrialist, not a qualitist, and not a qualitologist.  He was well-read and well-written, thoughtful everyday person  voicing some pretty important quality concepts from a common-sense perspective.
The message is clear; Quality is not something elite; it can be founded first in common sense and plain language, and, if you read some of “Josh Billings; Hiz Sayings” in humor. 
You can get this book through Amazon for 91 cents!!!

As a final note, there are lots of people who love affirmations, and love to buy those plaques and put them on their office walls as inspirational.  Just be aware than just because someone ascribes the words to some famous person, doesn’t necessarily mean those words came from that mouth or were framed in that brain.  If that doesn’t matter that is OK, but if you are more verification oriented, a little more checking may be appropriate.

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